Garden Bird Photography Tips

Garden Bird Photography Tips

November 20, 2020 , Liz Ludlow

Vanguard Ambassador Byran Walker shares his tips to capture some wonderful shots of birds in your garden during lockdown! 

Tip 1

Use a telephoto lens if possible. I currently use a Sigma 150-600c which is an excellent lens which produces super sharp images. To keep a good distance from the birds I’d advise at least a 200mm lens as a lot of the common garden birds are relatively small and they may look lost in the image otherwise.

Tip 2

Place feeders on or close to trees wherever possible as the birds will generally land on a branch before they go to the feeder, this is where you will get your best shots. Also if you’re lucky enough to have a tree stump in your garden, hollow it out and fill with nuts and you could get great spotted woodpeckers visiting.

Tip 3

Camera settings, personally I always shoot in manual, f stop will be anywhere between f5.6 and f8. I cap my iso at 10000 and it’s set to auto but generally I like to shoot anywhere between iso 100 and 4000. This way, depending on available light, you can keep your shutter speed high enough to keep the image sharp. Better to get a slightly noisy image than no image at all. (There are some excellent programs available which will clean up the image with no loss of detail). For static birds a shutter speed of anywhere between 500 and 1250sec and to capture birds in flight I’d use between 1250sec and 4000sec. Also I always use back button focus which is excellent for any wildlife photography. (loads of videos on YouTube explaining how to set it up and use on your model of DSLR).

Tip 4

An ideal place in the winter months would be to shoot through an open window either using a tripod or a beanbag whilst resting on the window sill (If using a tripod remember to turn off image stabilisation on the lens). Early morning or late afternoon is best as the light is always less harsh then. Midday when the sun is at its brightest you tend to get shadows across the birds spoiling the image.

Tip 5

I personally use Lightroom to edit my images and DXO to de-noise but there are many different software options available. Also I always shoot in raw as the image is uncompressed you’re able to produce higher quality images, as well as correct problem images that would be unrecoverable if shot in the JPEG format.

About the author - Bryan Walker

I first got into photography 3 years ago. I am a keen amateur wildlife and landscape photographer . My favourite locations are the Isle of Skye and the Lake District for landscape photography. I’m lucky enough where I live, I am 5 minutes walk into the countryside for my wildlife shots. And there are local nature reserves with bird hides nearby. My favourite bird is the kingfisher. 

Check out more of Bryan's work on Facebook and Instagram 


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